ePrivacy Regulation: LIBE vote jeopardises digital future of UK and European press

Laura Rutkowski

The European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, or LIBE, has adopted Marju Lauristin’s report on the draft Regulation on ePrivacy with a weak majority.

Despite strong opposing views, the presented amendments have put the future viability of many press titles across Europe at risk.

Estonian politician Lauristin is a member of the Social Democratic Party, part of the Party of European Socialists.

President of the European Magazine Media Association (EMMA) Xavier Bouckaert commented: “The adopted compromises are holding European citizens hostage by imposing default privacy settings that would prevent them from freely accessing journalistic content. This is a complete failure of this vote, which makes it impossible for our readers to decide which information they want to access or not, and under which conditions.”

In view of the vote in plenary session, EMMA and ENPA urgently call on members of the European Parliament to reject the mandate for the trialogue negotiations and instead allow for a true and transparent democratic debate that would ensure a balanced approach for the protection of citizens and their democratic values. This includes freedom of the press and the right to access information.

The PPA’s Director of External Affairs Owen Meredith said: “With GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] coming into force next year, these regulations were supposed to dovetail with new data protection laws to enhance consumer protection and support the digital economy. Instead, the regulation risks undermine both consumer choice and press freedom – here in the UK and across Europe. Regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations and the future relationship between the UK and EU, these regulations will impact UK publishers and – as currently drafted – will be hugely damaging.”

EMMA and ENPA have continuously raised concerns about the draft Regulation’s effect on the press sector and on citizens:

  • The draft Regulation will further strengthen gatekeepers: By preventing the use of cookies on press websites at the browser’s installation, EU legislators will consolidate the dominance of only a few technological players, which will have total control of the whole EU data market. This will exclude smaller and medium-sized European digital players, therefore affecting EU competition.
  • Individual users’ privacy will not be better protected: EU legislators will force citizens towards log-in business models, which are much more invasive of privacy. It would give the illusion of more protection, but users will be asked to give even more personal data than cookies do.
  • Media pluralism and access to information will have no future: The draft Regulation will prevent readers from enjoying free access to a large variety of professional journalistic content, as free access can no longer depend on the acceptance of cookies. Since most European press titles strongly depend on cookie-based advertising, the Regulation will directly impact press revenues in the digital environment.

President of the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association Carlo Perrone stated: “The European Parliament and the Council should not follow this approach, which would further empower the US technological giants by giving them full control over consumers’ data. This is in total contradiction with the interest of European citizens and against a free, independent and pluralistic press in Europe.”

EMMA represents 15,000 publishing houses, which publish 50,000 magazine titles across Europe in print and digital.

ENPA is an international non-profit organisation that represents newspaper publishers and news media on all platforms. 

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